Affiliation: Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel.
Highly regenerative adult tissues are supported by rare populations of stem cells that continuously divide to self-renew and generate differentiated progeny. This process is tightly regulated by signals emanating from surrounding cells to fulfill the dynamic demands of the tissue. One of the hallmarks of aging is slow and aberrant tissue regeneration due to deteriorated function of stem and supporting cells. Several Drosophila regenerative tissues are unique in that they provide exact identification of stem and neighboring cells in whole-tissue anatomy. This allows for precise tracking of age-related changes as well as their targeted manipulation within the tissue. In this review we present the stem cell niche of Drosophila testis, ovary and intestine and describe the major changes and phenotypes that occur in the course of aging. Specifically we discuss changes in both intrinsic properties of stem cells and their microenvironment that contribute to the decline in tissue functionality. Understanding these mechanisms in adult Drosophila tissues will likely provide new paradigms in the field of aging.